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Cooling Tower

Cooling Tower: Types and performance evaluation, Efficient system operation, Flow
control strategies and energy saving opportunities, Assessment of cooling towers

7.1 Introduction

Cooling towers are a very important part of many chemical plants. The primary task of a
cooling tower is to reject heat into the atmosphere. They represent a relatively
inexpensive and dependable means of removing low-grade heat from cooling water. The
make-up water source is used to replenish water lost to evaporation. Hot water from heat
exchangers is sent to the cooling tower. The water exits the cooling tower and is sent back
to the exchangers or to other units for further cooling. Typical closed loop cooling tower
system is shown in Figure 7.1.

Figure 7.1 Cooling Water System

Cooling Tower Types

Cooling towers fall into two main categories: Natural draft and Mechanical draft.

Natural draft towers use very large concrete chimneys to introduce air through the media.
Due to the large size of these towers, they are generally used for water flow rates above
45,000 m3/hr. These types of towers are used only by utility power stations.

Mechanical draft towers utilize large fans to force or suck air through circulated water.
The water falls downward over fill surfaces, which help increase the contact time between
the water and the air - this helps maximise heat transfer between the two. Cooling rates of
Mechanical draft towers depend upon their fan diameter and speed of operation. Since,
the mechanical draft cooling towers are much more widely used, the focus is on them in
this chapter.

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Mechanical draft towers

Mechanical draft towers are available in the following airflow arrangements:

1. Counter flows induced draft.

2. Counter flow forced draft.
3. Cross flow induced draft.

In the counter flow induced draft design, hot water enters at the top, while the air is
introduced at the bottom and exits at the top. Both forced and induced draft fans are used.
In cross flow induced draft towers, the water enters at the top and passes over the fill.
The air, however, is introduced at the side either on one side (single-flow tower) or
opposite sides (double-flow tower). An induced draft fan draws the air across the wetted
fill and expels it through the top of the structure.
The Figure 7.2 illustrates various cooling tower types. Mechanical draft towers are
available in a large range of capacities. Normal capacities range from approximately 10
tons, 2.5 m3/hr flow to several thousand tons and m3/hr. Towers can be either factory built
or field erected – for example concrete towers are only field erected.
Many towers are constructed so that they can be grouped together to achieve the
desired capacity. Thus, many cooling towers are assemblies of two or more individual
cooling towers or “cells.” The number of cells they have, e.g., a eight-cell tower, often
refers to such towers. Multiple-cell towers can be lineal, square, or round depending upon
the shape of the individual cells and whether the air inlets are located on the sides or
bottoms of the cells.

Components of Cooling Tower

The basic components of an evaporative tower are: Frame and casing, fill, cold water
basin, drift eliminators, air inlet, louvers, nozzles and fans.

Frame and casing: Most towers have structural frames that support the exterior
enclosures (casings), motors, fans, and other components. With some smaller designs,
such as some glass fiber units, the casing may essentially be the frame.

Fill: Most towers employ fills (made of plastic or wood) to facilitate heat transfer by
maximising water and air contact. Fill can either be splash or film type.

With splash fill, water falls over successive layers of horizontal splash bars, continuously
breaking into smaller droplets, while also wetting the fill surface. Plastic splash fill
promotes better heat transfer than the wood splash fill.

Film fill consists of thin, closely spaced plastic surfaces over which the water spreads,
forming a thin film in contact with the air. These surfaces may be flat, corrugated,
honeycombed, or other patterns. The film type of fill is the more efficient and provides
same heat transfer in a smaller volume than the splash fill.

Cold water basin: The cold water basin, located at or near the bottom of the tower,
receives the cooled water that flows down through the tower and fill. The basin usually
has a sump or low point for the cold water discharge connection. In many tower designs,
the cold water basin is beneath the entire fill.

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Figure 7.2 Cooling Tower Types

In some forced draft counter flow design, however, the water at the bottom of the fill is
channeled to a perimeter trough that functions as the cold water basin. Propeller fans are
mounted beneath the fill to blow the air up through the tower. With this design, the tower
is mounted on legs, providing easy access to the fans and their motors.

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Drift eliminators: These capture water droplets entrapped in the air stream that otherwise
would be lost to the atmosphere.

Air inlet: This is the point of entry for the air entering a tower. The inlet may take up an
entire side of a tower—cross flow design— or be located low on the side or the bottom of
counter flow designs.

Louvers: Generally, cross-flow towers have inlet louvers. The purpose of louvers is to
equalize air flow into the fill and retain the water within the tower. Many counter flow
tower designs do not require louvers.

Nozzles: These provide the water sprays to wet the fill. Uniform water distribution at the
top of the fill is essential to achieve proper wetting of the entire fill surface. Nozzles can
either be fixed in place and have either round or square spray patterns or can be part of a
rotating assembly as found in some circular cross-section towers.

Fans: Both axial (propeller type) and centrifugal fans are used in towers. Generally,
propeller fans are used in induced draft towers and both propeller and centrifugal fans are
found in forced draft towers. Depending upon their size, propeller fans can either be fixed
or variable pitch.

A fan having non-automatic adjustable pitch blades permits the same fan to be used over
a wide range of kW with the fan adjusted to deliver the desired air flow at the lowest
power consumption.

Automatic variable pitch blades can vary air flow in response to changing load conditions.

Tower Materials

In the early days of cooling tower manufacture, towers were constructed primarily of
wood. Wooden components included the frame, casing, louvers, fill, and often the cold
water basin. If the basin was not of wood, it likely was of concrete.
Today, tower manufacturers fabricate towers and tower components from a variety of
materials. Often several materials are used to enhance corrosion resistance, reduce
maintenance, and promote reliability and long service life. Galvanized steel, various
grades of stainless steel, glass fiber, and concrete are widely used in tower construction as
well as aluminum and various types of plastics for some components.
Wood towers are still available, but they have glass fiber rather than wood panels
(casing) over the wood framework. The inlet air louvers may be glass fiber, the fill may
be plastic, and the cold water basin may be steel.
Larger towers sometimes are made of concrete. Many towers—casings and basins—
are constructed of galvanized steel or, where a corrosive atmosphere is a problem,
stainless steel. Sometimes a galvanized tower has a stainless steel basin. Glass fiber is
also widely used for cooling tower casings and basins, giving long life and protection
from the harmful effects of many chemicals.
Plastics are widely used for fill, including PVC, polypropylene, and other polymers.
Treated wood splash fill is still specified for wood towers, but plastic splash fill is also
widely used when water conditions mandate the use of splash fill. Film fill, because it
offers greater heat transfer efficiency, is the fill of choice for applications where the
circulating water is generally free of debris that could plug the fill passageways.

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Plastics also find wide use as nozzle materials. Many nozzles are being made of PVC,
ABS, polypropylene, and glass-filled nylon. Aluminum, glass fiber, and hot-dipped
galvanized steel are commonly used fan materials. Centrifugal fans are often fabricated
from galvanized steel. Propeller fans are fabricated from galvanized, aluminum, or
molded glass fiber reinforced plastic.

7.2 Cooling Tower Performance

The important parameters, from the point of determining the performance of cooling
towers, are:

Figure 7.3 Range and Approach

i) “Range” is the difference between the cooling tower water inlet and outlet
temperature. (See Figure 7.3).
ii) “Approach” is the difference between the cooling tower outlet cold water
temperature and ambient wet bulb temperature. Although, both range and
approach should be monitored, the `Approach’ is a better indicator of cooling
tower performance. (see Figure 7.3).
iii) Cooling tower effectiveness (in percentage) is the ratio of range, to the ideal
range, i.e., difference between cooling water inlet temperature and ambient wet
bulb temperature, or in other words it is = Range / (Range + Approach).
iv) Cooling capacity is the heat rejected in kCal/hr or TR, given as product of mass
flow rate of water, specific heat and temperature difference.
v) Evaporation loss is the water quantity evaporated for cooling duty and,
theoretically, for every 10,00,000 kCal heat rejected, evaporation quantity works
out to 1.8 m3. An empirical relation used often is:

Evaporation Loss (m3/hr) = 0.00085 x 1.8 x circulation rate (m3/hr) x (T1-T2)

T1-T2 = Temp. difference between inlet and outlet water.

Source: Perry’s Chemical Engineers Handbook (Page: 12-17)

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vi) Cycles of concentration (C.O.C) is the ratio of dissolved solids in circulating water
to the dissolved solids in make up water.

vii) Blow down losses depend upon cycles of concentration and the evaporation losses
and is given by relation:

Blow Down = Evaporation Loss / (C.O.C. – 1)

viii) Liquid/Gas (L/G) ratio, of a cooling tower is the ratio between the water and the
air mass flow rates. Against design values, seasonal variations require adjustment
and tuning of water and air flow rates to get the best cooling tower effectiveness
through measures like water box loading changes, blade angle adjustments.

Thermodynamics also dictate that the heat removed from the water must be equal
to the heat absorbed by the surrounding air:

L/G = liquid to gas mass flow ratio (kg/kg)
T1 = hot water temperature (0C)
T2 = cold water temperature (0C)
h2 = enthalpy of air-water vapor mixture at exhaust wet-bulb temperature
(same units as above)
h1 = enthalpy of air-water vapor mixture at inlet wet-bulb temperature (same
units as above)

Factors Affecting Cooling Tower Performance


Heat dissipation (in kCal/hour) and circulated flow rate (m3/hr) are not sufficient to
understand cooling tower performance. Other factors, which we will see, must be stated
along with flow rate m3/hr. For example, a cooling tower sized to cool 4540 m3/hr
through a 13.9oC range might be larger than a cooling tower to cool 4540 m3/hr through
19.5oC range.


Range is determined not by the cooling tower, but by the process it is serving. The range
at the exchanger is determined entirely by the heat load and the water circulation rate
through the exchanger and on to the cooling water.

Range oC = Heat Load in kcals/hour / Water Circulation Rate in LPH

Thus, Range is a function of the heat load and the flow circulated through the system.

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Cooling towers are usually specified to cool a certain flow rate from one temperature to
another temperature at a certain wet bulb temperature. For example, the cooling tower
might be specified to cool 4540 m3/hr from 48.9oC to 32.2oC at 26.7oC wet bulb
Cold Water Temperature 32.2oC – Wet Bulb Temperature (26.7oC) = Approach
As a generalization, the closer the approach to the wet bulb,
the more expensive the cooling tower due to increased size.
Usually a 2.8oC approach to the design wet bulb is the
coldest water temperature that cooling tower manufacturers
will guarantee. If flow rate, range, approach and wet bulb
had to be ranked in the order of their importance in sizing a
tower, approach would be first with flow rate closely
following the range and wet bulb would be of lesser
Heat Load
The heat load imposed on a cooling tower is determined by the process being served. The
degree of cooling required is controlled by the desired operating temperature level of the
process. In most cases, a low operating temperature is desirable to increase process
efficiency or to improve the quality or quantity of the product. In some applications (e.g.
internal combustion engines), however, high operating temperatures are desirable. The
size and cost of the cooling tower is proportional to the heat load. If heat load calculations
are low undersized equipment will be purchased. If the calculated load is high, oversize
and more costly, equipment will result.
Process heat loads may vary considerably depending upon the process involved.
Determination of accurate process heat loads can become very complex but proper
consideration can produce satisfactory results. On the other hand, air conditioning and
refrigeration heat loads can be determined with greater accuracy.
Information is available for the heat rejection requirements of various types of power
equipment. A sample list is as follows:

* Air Compressor
- Single-stage - 129 kCal/kW/hr
- Single-stage with after cooler - 862 kCal/kW/hr
- Two-stage with intercooler - 518 kCal/kW/hr
- Two-stage with intercooler and after cooler - 862 kCal/kW/hr
* Refrigeration, Compression - 63 kCal/min/TR
* Refrigeration, Absorption - 127 kCal/min/TR
* Steam Turbine Condenser - 555 kCal/kg of
* Diesel Engine, Four-Cycle, Supercharged - 880 kCal/kW/hr
* Natural Gas Engine, Four-cycle - 1523 kCal/kW/hr
(18 kg/cm2 compression)

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Wet Bulb Temperature

Wet bulb temperature is an important factor in performance of evaporative water cooling

equipment. It is a controlling factor from the aspect of minimum cold water temperature
to which water can be cooled by the evaporative method. Thus, the wet bulb temperature
of the air entering the cooling tower determines operating temperature levels throughout
the plant, process, or system. Theoretically, a cooling tower will cool water to the entering
wet bulb temperature, when operating without a heat load. However, a thermal potential is
required to reject heat, so it is not possible to cool water to the entering air wet bulb
temperature, when a heat load is applied. The approach obtained is a function of thermal
conditions and tower capability.

Initial selection of towers with respect to design wet bulb temperature must be made on
the basis of conditions existing at the tower site. The temperature selected is generally
close to the average maximum wet bulb for the summer months. An important aspect of
wet bulb selection is, whether it is specified as ambient or inlet. The ambient wet bulb is
the temperature, which exists generally in the cooling tower area, whereas inlet wet bulb
is the wet bulb temperature of the air entering the tower. The later can be, and often is,
affected by discharge vapours being recirculated into the tower. Recirculation raises the
effective wet bulb temperature of the air entering the tower with corresponding increase
in the cold water temperature. Since there is no initial knowledge or control over the
recirculation factor, the ambient wet bulb should be specified. The cooling tower supplier
is required to furnish a tower of sufficient capability to absorb the effects of the increased
wet bulb temperature peculiar to his own equipment.

It is very important to have the cold water temperature low enough to exchange heat or to
condense vapours at the optimum temperature level. By evaluating the cost and size of
heat exchangers versus the cost and size of the cooling tower, the quantity and
temperature of the cooling tower water can be selected to get the maximum economy for
the particular process.

The Table 7.1 illustrates the effect of approach on the size and cost of a cooling tower.
The towers included were sized to cool 4540 m3/hr through a 16.67oC range at a 26.7oC
design wet bulb. The overall width of all towers is 21.65 meters; the overall height, 15.25
meters, and the pump head, 10.6 m approximately.


(4540 m3/hr; 16.67oC Range 26.7oC Wet Bulb; 10.7 m Pump Head)
Approach oC 2.77 3.33 3.88 4.44 5.0 5.55
Hot Water oC 46.11 46.66 47.22 47.77 48.3 48.88
Cold Water oC 29.44 30 30.55 31.11 31.66 32.22
No. of Cells 4 4 3 3 3 3
Length of Cells Mts. 10.98 8.54 10.98 9.76 8.54 8.54
Overall Length Mts. 43.9 34.15 32.93 29.27 25.61 25.61
No. of Fans 4 4 3 3 3 3
Fan Diameter Mts. 7.32 7.32 7.32 7.32 7.32 6.71
Total Fan kW 270 255 240 202.5 183.8 183.8

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Approach and Flow

Suppose a cooling tower is installed that is 21.65 m wide × 36.9 m long × 15.24m high,
has three 7.32 m diameter fans and each powered by 25 kW motors. The cooling tower
cools from 3632 m3/hr water from 46.1oC to 29.4oC at 26.7oC WBT dissipating 60.69
million kCal/hr. The Table 7.2 shows what would happen with additional flow but with
the range remaining constant at 16.67oC. The heat dissipated varies from 60.69 million
kCal/hr to 271.3 million kCal/hr.

Table 7.2 Flow vs. Approach for a Given Tower

(Tower is 21.65 m × 36.9 M; Three 7.32 M Fans; Three 25 kW Motors;
16.7oC Range with 26.7oC Wet Bulb)
Approach Cold Water Hot Water Million
Flow m3/hr o o o
C C C kCal/hr
3632 2.78 29.40 46.11 60.691
4086 3.33 29.95 46.67 68.318
4563 3.89 30.51 47.22 76.25
5039 4.45 31.07 47.78 84.05
5516 5.00 31.62 48.33 92.17
6060.9 5.56 32.18 48.89 101.28
7150.5 6.67 33.29 50.00 119.48
8736 8.33 35.00 51.67 145.63
11590 11.1 37.80 54.45 191.64
13620 13.9 40.56 57.22 226.91
16276 16.7 43.33 60.00 271.32

For meeting the increased heat load, few modifications would be needed to increase the
water flow through the tower. However, at higher capacities, the approach would

Range, Flow and Heat Load

Range is a direct function of the quantity of water circulated and the heat load. Increasing
the range as a result of added heat load does require an increase in the tower size. If the
cold water temperature is not changed and the range is increased with higher hot water
temperature, the driving force between the wet bulb temperature of the air entering the
tower and the hot water temperature is increased, the higher level heat is economical to

If the hot water temperature is left constant and the range is increased by specifying a
lower cold water temperature, the tower size would have to be increased considerably.
Not only would the range be increased, but the lower cold water temperature would lower

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the approach. The resulting change in both range and approach would require a much
larger cooling tower.
Approach & Wet Bulb Temperature
The design wet bulb temperature is determined by the geographical location. Usually the
design wet bulb temperature selected is not exceeded over 5 percent of the time in that
area. Wet bulb temperature is a factor in cooling tower selection; the higher the wet bulb
temperature, the smaller the tower required to give a specified approach to the wet bulb at
a constant range and flow rate.
A 4540 m3/hr cooling tower selected for a 16.67oC range and a 4.45oC approach to
21.11oC wet bulb would be larger than a 4540 m3/hr tower selected for a 16.67oC range
and a 4.45oC approach to a 26.67oC wet bulb. Air at the higher wet bulb temperature is
capable of picking up more heat. Assume that the wet bulb temperature of the air is
increased by approximately 11.1oC. As air removes heat from the water in the tower,
each kg of air entering the tower at 21.1oC wet bulb would contain 18.86 kCals and if it
were to leave the tower at 32.2oC wet bulb it would contain 24.17 kCal per kg of air.
In the second case, each kg of air entering the tower at 26.67oC wet bulb would
contain 24.17 kCals and were to leave at 37.8oC wet bulb it would contain 39.67 kCal
per kg of air.
In going from 21.1oC to 32.2oC, 12.1 kCal per kg of air is picked up, while 15.5
kCal/kg of air is picked up in going from 26.67oC to 37.8oC.

Fill Media Effects

In a cooling tower, hot water is distributed above fill media which flows down and is
cooled due to evaporation with the intermixing air. Air draft is achieved with use of fans.
Thus some power is consumed in pumping the water to a height above the fill and also by
fans creating the draft.
An energy efficient or low power consuming cooling tower is to have efficient designs
of fill media with appropriate water distribution, drift eliminator, fan, gearbox and motor.
Power savings in a cooling tower, with use of efficient fill design, is directly reflected as
savings in fan power consumption and pumping head requirement.

Function of Fill media in a Cooling Tower

Heat exchange between air and water is influenced by surface area of heat exchange, time
of heat exchange (interaction) and turbulence in water effecting thoroughness of
intermixing. Fill media in a cooling tower is responsible to achieve all of above.

Splash and Film Fill Media: As the name indicates, splash fill media generates the
required heat exchange area by splashing action of water over fill media and hence
breaking into smaller water droplets. Thus, surface of heat exchange is the surface area of
the water droplets, which is in contact with air.
Film Fill and its Advantages

In a film fill, water forms a thin film on either side of fill sheets. Thus area of heat
exchange is the surface area of the fill sheets, which is in contact with air.

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Typical comparison between various fill media is shown in Table 7.3.

Table 7.3 Typical Comparisons Between Various Fill Media

Splash Fill Film Fill Low Clog Film Fill

Possible L/G Ratio 1.1 – 1.5 1.5 – 2.0 1.4 – 1.8

Effective Heat Exchange Area 30 – 45 m2/m3 150 m2/m3 85 – 100 m2/m3

Fill Height Required 5 – 10 m 1.2 – 1.5 m 1.5 – 1.8 m

Pumping Head Requirement 9 – 12 m 5–8m 6–9m

Quantity of Air Required High Much low Low

Due to fewer requirements of air and pumping head, there is a tremendous saving in
power with the invention of film fill.
Recently, low-clog film fills with higher flute sizes have been developed to handle high
turbid waters. For sea water, low clog film fills are considered as the best choice in terms
of power saving and performance compared to conventional splash type fills.
Choosing a Cooling Tower
The counter-flow and cross flows are two basic designs of cooling towers based on the
fundamentals of heat exchange. It is well known that counter flow heat exchange is more
effective as compared to cross flow or parallel flow heat exchange.
Cross-flow cooling towers are provided with splash fill of concrete, wood or perforated
PVC. Counter-flow cooling towers are provided with both film fill and splash fill.
Typical comparison of Cross flow Spash Fill, Counter Flow Tower with Film Fill and
Splash fill is shown in Table 7.4. The power consumption is least in Counter Flow Film
Fill followed by Counter Flow Splash Fill and Cross-Flow Splash Fill.
Table 7.4 Typical Comparison of Cross flow splash fill, Counter Flow Tower
with Film Fill and Splash Fill

Number of Towers : 2
Water Flow : 16000 m3/hr.
Hot Water Temperature : 41.5oC
Cold Water Temperature : 32.5oC
Design Wet Bulb Temperature : 27.6oC

Counter Flow Counter Flow Cross-Flow

Film Fill Splash Fill Splash Fill
Fill Height, Meter 1.5 5.2 11.0
Plant Area per Cell 14.4 × 14.4 14.4 × 14.4 12.64 × 5.49
Number of Cells per Tower 6 6 5
Power at Motor Terminal/Tower, kW 253 310 330
Static Pumping Head, Meter 7.2 10.9 12.05

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7.3 Efficient System Operation

Cooling Water Treatment

Cooling water treatment is mandatory for any cooling tower whether with splash fill or
with film type fill for controlling suspended solids, algae growth, etc.
With increasing costs of water, efforts to increase Cycles of Concentration (COC), by
Cooling Water Treatment would help to reduce make up water requirements significantly.
In large industries, power plants, COC improvement is often considered as a key area for
water conservation.

Drift Loss in the Cooling Towers

It is very difficult to ignore drift problem in cooling towers. Now-a-days most of the end
user specification calls for 0.02% drift loss.
With technological development and processing of PVC, manufacturers have brought
large change in the drift eliminator shapes and the possibility of making efficient designs
of drift eliminators that enable end user to specify the drift loss requirement to as low as
0.003 – 0.001%.
Cooling Tower Fans
The purpose of a cooling tower fan is to move a specified quantity of air through the
system, overcoming the system resistance which is defined as the pressure loss. The
product of air flow and the pressure loss is air power developed/work done by the fan; this
may be also termed as fan output and input kW depends on fan efficiency.
The fan efficiency in turn is greatly dependent on the profile of the blade. An
aerodynamic profile with optimum twist, taper and higher coefficient of lift to coefficient
of drop ratio can provide the fan total efficiency as high as 85-92 %. However, this
efficiency is drastically affected by the factors such as tip clearance, obstacles to airflow
and inlet shape, etc.
As the metallic fans are manufactured by adopting either extrusion or casting process it
is always difficult to generate the ideal aerodynamic profiles. The FRP blades are
normally hand moulded which facilitates the generation of optimum aerodynamic profile
to meet specific duty condition more efficiently. Cases reported where replacement of
metallic or Glass fibre reinforced plastic fan blades have been replaced by efficient
hollow FRP blades, with resultant fan energy savings of the order of 20-30% and with
simple pay back period of 6 to 7 months.
Also, due to lightweight, FRP fans need low starting torque resulting in use of lower
HP motors. The lightweight of the fans also increases the life of the gear box, motor and
bearing is and allows for easy handling and maintenance.
Performance Assessment of Cooling Towers
In operational performance assessment, the typical measurements and observations
involved are:
• Cooling tower design data and curves to be referred to as the basis.
• Intake air WBT and DBT at each cell at ground level using a whirling

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• Exhaust air WBT and DBT at each cell using a whirling psychrometer.
• CW inlet temperature at risers or top of tower, using accurate mercury in glass or a
digital thermometer.
• CW outlet temperature at full bottom, using accurate mercury in glass or a digital
• Process data on heat exchangers, loads on line or power plant control room
readings, as relevant.
• CW flow measurements, either direct or inferred from pump motor kW and pump
head and flow characteristics.
• CT fan motor amps, volts, kW and blade angle settings
• TDS of cooling water.
• Rated cycles of concentration at the site conditions.
• Observations on nozzle flows, drift eliminators, condition of fills, splash bars, etc.
The findings of one typical trial pertaining to the Cooling Towers of a Thermal Power Plant
3 x 200 MW is given below:
* Unit Load 1 & 3 of the Station = 398 MW
* Mains Frequency = 49.3
* Inlet Cooling Water Temperature C = 44 (Rated 43oC)
* Outlet Cooling Water Temperature oC = 37.6 (Rated 33oC)
* Air Wet Bulb Temperature near Cell oC = 29.3 (Rated 27.5oC)
* Air Dry Bulb Temperature near Cell oC = 40.8oC
* Number of CT Cells on line with water flow = 45 (Total 48)
* Total Measured Cooling Water Flow m /hr = 70426.76
* Measured CT Fan Flow m /hr = 989544
* CT water Flow/Cell, m3/hr = 1565 m3/hr (1565000 kg/hr)
(Rated 1875 m3/hr)
* CT Fan air Flow, m3/hr (Avg.) = 989544 m3/hr
(Rated 997200 m3/hr)
* CT Fan air Flow kg/hr (Avg.) = 1068708 kg/hr
@ Density of 1.08 kg/m3
* L/G Ratio of C.T. kg/kg = 1.46
(Rated 1.74 kg/kg)
* CT Range = (44 – 37.6) = 6.4oC
* CT Approach = (37.6 – 29.3) = 8.3oC
* % CT Effectiveness = Range
x 100
( Range + Approach)

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= 6.4
x 100
(6.4 + 8.3)
= 43.53
* Rated % CT Effectiveness = 100 * (43 – 33) / (43 –
= 64.5%
* Cooling Duty Handled/Cell in kCal = 1565 * 6.4 * 103
(i.e., Flow * Temperature Difference in = 10016 * 103 kCal/hr (Rated
kCal/hr) 18750 * 103 kCal/hr)
* Evaporation Losses in m3/hr = 0.00085 x 1.8 x circulation
rate (m3/hr) x (T1-T2)
= 0.00085 x 1.8 x 1565 x (44-
= 15.32 m3/hr per cell
* Percentage Evaporation Loss = [15.32/1565]*100
= 0.97%
* Blow down requirement for site COC of 2.7 = Evaporation losses /
= 15.32/(2.7–1) per cell i.e.,
9.01 m3/hr
* Make up water requirement/cell in m3/hr = Evaporation Loss + Blow
down Loss
= 15.32 + 9.01
= 24.33
• Cooling water flow per cell is much lower, almost by 16.5%, need to investigate
CW pump and system performance for improvements. Increasing CW flow
through cell was identified as a key result area for improving performance of
cooling towers.
• Flow stratification in 3 cooling tower cells identified.
• Algae growth identified in 6 cooling tower cells.
• Cooling tower fans are of GRP type drawing 36.2 kW average. Replacement by
efficient hollow FRP fan blades is recommended.

7.4 Flow Control Strategies

Control of tower air flow can be done by varying methods: starting and stopping (On-off)
of fans, use of two- or three-speed fan motors, use of automatically adjustable pitch fans,
use of variable speed fans.
On-off fan operation of single speed fans provides the least effective control. Two-speed
fans provide better control with further improvement shown with three speed fans.

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Automatic adjustable pitch fans and variable-speed fans can provide even closer control
of tower cold-water temperature. In multi-cell towers, fans in adjacent cells may be
running at different speeds or some may be on and others off depending upon the tower
load and required water temperature. Depending upon the method of air volume control
selected, control strategies can be determined to minimise fan energy while achieving the
desired control of the Cold water temperature.
7.5 Energy Saving Opportunities in Cooling Towers
− Follow manufacturer’s recommended clearances around cooling towers and
relocate or modify structures that interfere with the air intake or exhaust.
− Optimise cooling tower fan blade angle on a seasonal and/or load basis.
− Correct excessive and/or uneven fan blade tip clearance and poor fan balance.
− On old counter-flow cooling towers, replace old spray type nozzles with new
square spray ABS practically non-clogging nozzles.
− Replace splash bars with self-extinguishing PVC cellular film fill.
− Install new nozzles to obtain a more uniform water pattern
− Periodically clean plugged cooling tower distribution nozzles.
− Balance flow to cooling tower hot water basins.
− Cover hot water basins to minimise algae growth that contributes to fouling.
− Optimise blow down flow rate, as per COC limit.
− Replace slat type drift eliminators with low pressure drop, self extinguishing,
PVC cellular units.
− Restrict flows through large loads to design values.
− Segregate high heat loads like furnaces, air compressors, DG sets, and isolate
cooling towers for sensitive applications like A/C plants, condensers of captive
power plant etc. A 1oC cooling water temperature increase may increase A/C
compressor kW by 2.7%. A 1oC drop in cooling water temperature can give a
heat rate saving of 5 kCal/kWh in a thermal power plant.
− Monitor L/G ratio, CW flow rates w.r.t. design as well as seasonal variations.
It would help to increase water load during summer and times when approach
is high and increase air flow during monsoon times and when approach is
− Monitor approach, effectiveness and cooling capacity for continuous
optimisation efforts, as per seasonal variations as well as load side variations.
− Consider COC improvement measures for water savings.
− Consider energy efficient FRP blade adoption for fan energy savings.
− Consider possible improvements on CW pumps w.r.t. efficiency improvement.
− Control cooling tower fans based on leaving water temperatures especially in
case of small units.

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7. Cooling Tower

− Optimise process CW flow requirements, to save on pumping energy, cooling

load, evaporation losses (directly proportional to circulation rate) and blow
down losses.
Some typical problems and their trouble shooting for cooling towers are given in Table

Table 7.5 Typical Problems and Trouble Shooting for Cooling Towers

Problem / Difficulty Possible Causes Remedies/Rectifying Action

Excessive absorbed 1. Voltage Reduction Check the voltage
current / electrical load 2a. Incorrect angle of axial fan blades Adjust the blade angle
2b. Loose belts on centrifugal fans Check belt tightness
(or speed reducers)
3. Overloading owing to excessive air Regulate the water flow by means
flow-fill has minimum water of the valve
loading per m2 of tower section
4. Low ambient air temperature The motor is cooled
proportionately and hence delivers
more than name plate power
Drift/carry-over of 1. Uneven operation of spray nozzles Adjust the nozzle orientation and
water outside the unit eliminate any dirt
2. Blockage of the fill pack Eliminate any dirt in the top of the
3. Defective or displaced droplet Replace or realign the eliminators
4. Excessive circulating water flow Adjust the water flow-rate by
(possibly owing to too high means of the regulating valves.
pumping head) Check for absence of damage to
the fill
Loss of water from 1. Float-valve not at correct level Adjust the make-up valve
basins/pans 2. Lack of equalising connections Equalise the basins of towers
operating in parallel
Lack of cooling and 1. Water flow below the design valve Regulated the flow by means of
hence increase in the valves
temperatures owing to 2. Irregular airflow or lack of air Check the direction of rotation of
increased temperature the fans and/or belt tension
range (broken belt possible)
3a. Recycling of humid discharge air Check the air descent velocity
3b. Intake of hot air from other sources Install deflectors
4a. Blocked spray nozzles (or even Clean the nozzles and/or the tubes
blocked spray tubes)
4b. Scaling of joints Wash or replace the item
5. Scaling of the fill pack Clean or replace the material
(washing with inhibited aqueous
sulphuric acid is possible but long,
complex and expensive)

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7. Cooling Tower

1. What do you understand by the following terms in respect of cooling
a) Approach, b) Cooling Duty c) Range d) Cooling Tower Effectiveness

2. Explain with a sketch the different types of cooling towers.

3. What do you mean by the term of Cycles of Concentration and how it is

related to cooling tower blow down?

4. Explain the term L/G ratio?

5. CT Observations at an industrial site were

* CW Flow : 5000 m3/hr
* CW in Temperature : 42oC
* CW Out Temperature : 36oC
* Wet Bulb Temperature : 29oC

What is the Effectiveness of the cooling tower?

6. What is the function of fill media in a cooling tower?

7. List the factors affecting cooling tower performance.

8. List the energy conservation opportunities in a cooling tower system.

9. Explain the difference between evaporation loss and drift loss?

What is the Blow-down Loss, if the Cycles of Concentration (COC) is


1. ASHRAE Handbook
2. NPC Case Studies

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